Picking up above the ziggurat:
Jhuni Blackfire (she/her)
Thelmor Irdro (he/him)
We have left the room of the floating river and returned to the inverted ziggurat, passing by the secret door in the hall on the way. Snow is already inside, and we regard again the stepped landscapes: aquarium, terrarium, aquarium, and some central base. There's a door at the bottom level.
Snow, already in the room, looks around, spotting manticores on the bottom level and large scorpion-things in the terrarium mezzanine level. Snow decides to wait. Grey tries to shatter the top-ring aquarium with an arrow, but misses. Jhuni drops a firebolt over the water and down to a scorpion; it screeches. On the bottom tier, the manticores raise their tails and fling spines, tagging Grey and Jhuni with two tail-spikes. Perfect passes his turn back to Grey, who puts an arrow into the wall successfully and creates cracks and a small hole, but doesn't quite shatter the wall; it won't take much more, though. Nil tries to remember what she's heard about manticores; the tail spikes have a long range, but there is a limited supply. They still have bunch left (like, 63 between the three manticores).
There's definitely something in the top-level water. Nil moves into the room and drops Shield of Faith on Jhuni, and pull out her own (physical) shield. Sunrise pulls out a nearly-violin and begins to play, filling the air with a sharp, tense melody. A giant, boiling stormcloud forms. She calls a lightning bolt, zapping a couple of scorpions and maybe something else and making a large opening in the glass. The scorpions are... kind of still in shock.
Snow becomes aware of the things in the water; she moves over and attacks one of them, stabbing down into the water. She feels the resistance as she stabs it, but doesn't hear anything; impossible to tell how badly the thing is damaged. As usual, she dances back out of the way. Thelmor moves in to take her place, and tries to put an axe into it; he succeeds. It comes surging towards the surface; it's a giant crawfish. Grey puts another arrow in the far aquarium wall and widens the hole; Jhuni drops a Fireball into the bottom of the ziggurat, hoping to shatter more glass and damage some manticores into the bargain. (OOC: 32 damage.) The glass shatters, and water pours in on top of the manticores.
Perfect passes his turn to Grey, who opens the hole further; Nil tags the nearest (damaged) crawdad with Toll The Dead. It cannot pay the toll, and dies. Sunrise drops another lightning bolt on the manticores, who are backing away from the water. (OOC: 16 damage apiece.) Snow skewers a crawfish on her rapier, but of course none of us see it; the crawdad appears to have just asploded.
Thelmor continues his assault, slaying another crawdad, and Grey cracks more of the lower aquarium wall. Jhuni drops another fireball, doing yet more damage to the manticores. The beasts are all spilling into each other's areas now.
Snow: "Oh, PLEASE let one or both of those things be territorial."
Sunrise: "That would be an absolute fucking delight."
The beasts tear into each other, and one of the manticores dies; Nil drops Toll The Dead on the most wounded remaining manticore. It collapses. The sea lions are triumphant.
Sunrise drops a lightning bolt on two of the remaining scorpions, damaging the glass beside them in the process.
Snow makes a jump, bounces off a floating dead crawfish, and balances on the top-tier glass wall on the near side where it's still intact. She tries to stab down at the scorpion, loses her balance, and drops into the terrarium beside it. She tumbles and comes up on her feet face-to-face with the giant scorpion. Snow radiates absolute assurance that this is what she attended to do.
Thelmor uses his Blood Knight abilities to teleport down in front of the skeleton he shot with a crossbow last round, and then reappears in burst of shadows and raven feathers and slams his axe into it twice. Grey follows Snow's path to the glass wall, and puts an illusion of a knight beside the scorpion that was facing Snow: "Ho, Varlet!" says the knight.
Jhuni fires off magic missile at the scorpion in front of Thelmor, and it staggers back shrieking.
Then the beasts attack again... The scorpion attacking Grey's illusion is entirely too stupid to realize why its attacks aren't hitting; it may think its opponent is invincible. A crawfish and a scorpion are fighting each other, and int he process rolling nearer to Thelmor. Thelmor: "They're fighting over who gets to be friends with me!" The crawfish dies or poison, and the scorpion starts trying to eat it. Grey: "I did not bring nearly enough melted butter for this adventure."
The beasts did attack Thelmor and Snow, but not to any effect. The sealions killed the manticores, and are now eating them; the crawfish and scorpions are fighting, and Perfect turns his attack over to Thelmor, who unfortunately misses. Nil tags the scorpion in front of Thelmor with Toll The Dead again; it shudders and then curls up and dies. Nil: "Good-bye!"
Sunrise drops a lightning strike on the four sea lions, then moves to get a better view.
Snow attempts to stab the scorpion, then darts past to join Thelmor using Zephyr Strike. Thelmor uses his power to give one of the crawfish one last attack against the scorpion that's killing it, and it throws a desperate blow that connects solidly and nearly kills it. The crawfish dies, and the scorpion is almost dead: the crawfish pinched its tail off! Grey tries to do a drop assassination on the scorpion that Snow had been fighting, but misses. His illusion continues to be vocal and distracting.
Jhuni uses Misty Step to bampf over to Snow, and firebolts the scorpion in front of Thelmor. The water is still spreading, and the beasts are still fighting amongst themselves as well as attacking us. The scorpion attacking Thelmor turns and attacks a living crawfish instead of the dead one that nearly killed it; but without its tail, it's weakened. Two of the crawfish are attacking another scorpion, and Grey is saved from being attacked by his illusionary distraction... which distracts the scorpions so much that one of them attacks the glass next to it and shatters it.
The cleric points out that in the bottom, the blood from the manticores seems to be going towards the corners of the room, suggesting that the bastard laid drains.
Perfect has no desire to step into the water; he looks at Nil. "Anything noteworthy? I looks like everyone is handling themselves. I feel like this party is doing quite well for themselves."
Nil: "We certainly have destroyed more terrariums than any of your other adventuring parties." She continues with Toll The Dead, aiming at a wounded Sea Lion. (OOC: 27 damage.) It rears up, howls in pain, and is looking wildly around.
Sunrise drops a lighting bolt on the crawfish and scorpion in one corner, blasting them rather thoroughly (OOC 18 damage all around). Snow moves in the scorpion that's engaged with the illusionary knight, and stabs it fairly thoroughly; it shrieks and turns around, but of course can't see her. (Gloomstalker.) Snow fades back out, looking smug.
Thelmor slams his axe into the scorpion, and removes a pincer; then buries it between the beast's eyes. He uses his power to allow it to attack the crawfish one more time, and it does some damage before it dies. Grey tries again to attack the scorpion, and again misses; Jhuni throws Magic Missiles and does some damage.
Then the monsters do their things again. The water is starting to rush in hard enough that one of the scorpions is drowining; Grey and Thelmor are in about three feet of water. It's only going to get wetter and swifter-current from here.
Perfect's still chatting with Nil up on the top balcony, but Nil is a bit distracted by the life-or-death battle. Nil moves down to the formerly-dry terrarium level, and joins us in three feet of water. She casts Water Block, and everybody is suddenly standing on top of the water. Snow: "Okay, you could have done this the WHOLE TIME???"
Nil just stares at her like, "...Yes?"
Sunrise drops a lightning bolt onto the Sea Lions, then leaps down to join the others; she's still playing her instrument. The sea lions are still looking pretty healthy. Snow moves to attack one of the crawfish, tremendously relieved to find herself on top of the water. Zephyr Strike is still active, lending just enough extra damage to tip the rapier blow's damage over the edge. The beast dies, and Snow moves down to the south end of the chamber. Thelmor moves over to the scorpion that's still trying to kill the illusion, and finishes it off.
Grey finally manages to connect with the scorpion next to him, not killing it but at least (finally!) doing some damage. Jhuni fires off Scorching Ray, aiming at the three remaining scorpions. The first one misses, the second scorpion goes down, and the last one last one takes some damage. The scorpions are also having trouble with the water; the crawfish kills the third scorpion, and the sea lions are still nibbling on the manticorpses.
Perfect steps in and finishes the last scorpion, which was busy drowning in any case, and give Grey a little fist-bump.
Nil throws another Toll The Dead, finishing off the last of the crawfish, and starts down towards the door. Sunrise drops another lightning strike on the Sea Lions, doing a huge amount of damage and killing one of them.
Sunshine casts Leomund's Tiny Hut, and we take a long rest while the water drains. When we emerge, the water is gone and so is the wall of force. Nil opens the door... and finds an lavish, well-appointed room. It looks like there's some history here, but... we're not historians. The styles are old, centuries old. The more aware realize that these are all local, but it's Perfect who says, "This is my family's past. That one, with the greatsword piercing the giant's skull... why would my family's crest be down here?" Something on the dais moves; a fairly tall man covered in spike armor rises. He seems to be made of shadows and decayed flesh, and snorts. "Who comes into Thaddeus' lair?"
Thelmor: "A servant of the Raven Queen, for one."
Thaddeus: "You've come to take my blade."
Thelmor: "Even if I hadn't, I'd have come to take your head. You don't belong in this world."
Thaddeus laughs, and draws a perfectly black blade and raises it. Perfect exclaims: "You hold Blackrazor?"
"If you want it, you're going to have to take it from my hand the hard way!" He lets out the sort of roaring shriek that only the undead can make.
...And there we stop for the night. Or possibly for the knight.